After a statement 66-62 come-from-behind win over then-No. 13 Tennessee, senior Georgia forward Caliya Robinson warned opposing teams to “not take them for granted.”
At that moment, it seemed impossible for anyone to overlook the Georgia women’s basketball team. The Bulldogs were 3-1 in the SEC and won their conference opener for the first time since 2012 with a 13-point win over LSU. Coming off two well-fought games against ranked opponents, one being a huge upset win over a historic rival, the Bulldogs looked poised to attack the rest of their SEC schedule. They even appeared in ESPN’s bracket projection as a 10 seed.
Two games later, they’re on the outside looking in.
After what looked like a turning-point win against the Volunteers, the Bulldogs were embarrassed on the road against then-unranked Missouri, losing by 26 to the Tigers. To find a bigger loss for Georgia, you have to go all the way back to December 2017, when they fell to Texas by 28.
Three days later, Texas A&M came to Stegeman Coliseum and ran off with a 76-66 win, and sent the Bulldogs spiraling out of the NCAA tournament projections.
So, what went wrong for Georgia?
Well, it’s complicated.
Stats don’t lie?
The truth of the matter is, the Bulldogs haven’t seriously played that much worse over this short losing streak compared to their wins over LSU and Tennessee. That’s not to say the performance against Missouri wasn’t bad; it’s pretty hard to ignore scoring only 35 points. But even in the blowout, Georgia shot a survivable 30% from the field and was only down 12 at the half (the Bulldogs also trailed Tennessee by 12 at the break and won).
On the flip side, Georgia’s 66-point outing against Texas A&M would’ve been enough to win almost every other game it has played so far, but it was 10 points short of the Aggies.
It’s hard to find a stat that shows any sort of trend between these performances. For instance, Georgia outshot Texas A&M 43.5 percent to 40 percent. On the other hand, Tennessee had a better shooting percentage in the matchup with the Bulldogs, but Georgia still hung on to a four-point win.
Looking specifically at the Texas A&M loss, you might say a big contributor to the final score was the difference on the glass. The Aggies outrebounded Georgia by 16; more than enough to change the game, and yet the Bulldogs overcame a double-digit deficit in rebounds in the Tennessee game.
So, what’s making the difference?
Stung from beyond the arc
Over the past couple games, the Bulldogs have struggled to guard the outside shot, despite being roughly middle of the pack nationally in that category.
The Bulldogs are ranked 119th in the nation in opponent 3-point percentage this season, with opposing teams shooting right around 30% from three. While that number isn’t especially high, they have been allowing a much larger figure since the win over Tennessee.
Missouri went 9-18 from beyond the arc in its win against the Bulldogs, and as the final score showed, it was too much for Georgia to overcome. It was always going to be an uphill battle from three in that game, however, as Missouri currently ranks No.1 in the SEC in total 3-pointers made.
But despite Texas A&M having the conference’s second-worst 3-point percentage, the Bulldogs didn’t fare too much better at home against the Aggies, as Georgia allowed them a generous 43% from three.
“A fight thing”
A two-game sample isn’t nearly enough to judge the defense as a whole, but the Bulldogs will certainly hope to limit the long-range bombs in their upcoming matchup against Alabama on Sunday, Jan. 27, in Athens.
Perhaps they’ll get some respite from the 3-ball barrage, as the Crimson Tide sit in the middle of the SEC rankings in 3-point percentage.
Either way, the Bulldogs will continue to strive toward their goal of the NCAA Tournament regardless of what the rankings say.
“We don’t really worry about what other people have to say about us. We know what we’re capable of,” said sophomore guard Gabby Connally on Jan. 13.
Teams around the conference have heeded Robinson’s warning after the Tennessee game. This Bulldogs team isn’t going to be overlooked by anyone, and they certainly weren’t overlooked by Missouri and Texas A&M. But Robinson and the rest of the team knows there’s still a whole lot of ball left play.
“It’s more so a fight thing,” Robinson said describing the Tennessee game on Jan. 13. “You’ve got to get back up and you’re going to fight.”